London calling

I'm in New York and my girlfriend's in the U.K. How do I hold on to her for the eight months she's away?

Published October 8, 2003 7:26PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I'm a 24-year-old male living in New York City. My girlfriend is also 24 and she just moved to London to get her master's degree. We met at the beginning of the summer and have had an amazing relationship so far. I know the inherent dangers of the long-distance relationship, but I feel this girl is worth it and I want to stick it out.

I do trust her, but my mind recently has succumbed to jealous fantasies where she is the cute new girl in a school of mostly men who are all vying to take her away from me -- the guy across the ocean who occasionally gets to talk to her on the phone.

What can I do to quiet these jealous fantasies? Should I tell her that I am having them, at the risk of seeming like the overbearing and needy boyfriend? I don't want to alienate her, but I do want to let her know how I feel. She will be returning in about eight months and I will be seeing her once or twice in the interim. I guess my main concern is how can I make myself seem like an attractive option to come back to?

Boy vs. London

Dear Boy vs. London,

You are very perceptive to realize that a needy, overbearing and jealous man is not what a girlfriend wants to come home to.

But she does need to know that you miss her madly, like a bee misses a flower, like the sun misses the moon, like a dog misses a bone, like a ship misses the ocean, like the ocean misses the sand. There's nothing needy and jealous about missing a woman so badly that you find yourself staring off into space in meetings or drifting off and thinking about her while you're out with friends. The trick is to only tell her those things that would look good in a movie. Don't tell her you're sitting home surrounded by burrito wrappers, that you haven't cleaned the house in a month or that you've stopped wearing deodorant. Don't tell her you're going to peep shows and reading Hustler. Don't tell her on Friday nights you have a few beers with the guys and then come home for some serious drinking alone. And don't, for God's sake, tell her that you're afraid she's fooling around on you. Just tell her that you can't wait to see her, and make sure when you see her that you have a great time.

Anything positive you can do during this period, go ahead and do it. Send her surprises. Call her with words of encouragement. But don't pry into what she's doing. Things may happen that mean nothing and are best left unmentioned.

I really think you should leave the whole thing alone and hope for the best. But if your suspicions are really eating away at you, and you have to talk about it, I suggest you make a pact with her. It's the adult and honorable thing to do. Adopt a grave but loving tone. Tell her that you know you're far away from each other and that sometimes things happen. Tell her that if anything happens over there that changes her feelings about you, if she finds herself falling for someone else, all you ask is that she tell you as soon as she knows, that she not try to hide it just to spare your feelings, because that sort of behavior just cheapens what you've shared.

That oughta sound pretty good on a transatlantic line.

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